Apple Research app taps AirPods Pro for hearing study

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The Ear Tip Fit Test on iPhone.
AirPods Pro can be used for science. SCIENCE!
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple Research, an application that lets users take part in groundbreaking medical studies, scored an update today to let participants share data from their AirPods Pro with the Apple Hearing Study. A new version of the associated Apple Watch app also promises battery life improvements.

Getting an earful in the Apple Hearing Study

Since it launched in the fall, the Apple Hearing Study collects headphone usage and environmental sound exposure data through each participant’s iPhone, as well as the Noise app on Apple Watch. The release notes for the new Apple Research 1.1.2 indicate this version adds “support for AirPods Pro in the Apple Hearing Study.”

Obviously, these in-ear headphones can track how much loud music the wearer is listening to. But they have external speakers to pick up ambient sounds for Active Noise Cancellation too. Theoretically, these could be used to track how loud the wearer’s environment is. This might be more accurate than tracking the same data via an iPhone, which is often stowed away in a pocket or bag.

Improving the Apple Research for Apple Watch application

Even a quick glance at the Ratings & Reviews section for Apple Research on the App Store turns up complaints about the software draining the Apple Watch battery. This problem gets addressed in version 1.1.2. Release notes promise “battery life improvements with the latest watchOS update.”